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The seat of Clay County, Nebraska, the city of Clay Center was laid out in 1879, and named the county seat that same year. The first building on the site served as a temporary courthouse, later replaced by a larger building, and Clay Center was incorporated as a village in 1887. An early stimulation of the town’s economy came about when M.M. Johnson came to town, designing “Old Trusty Incubators,” which were manufactured at a plant he build in Clay Center. Using these incubators, Will Holcomb established the Nebraska Poultry Company, which hatched chicks and shipped them all over the Midwest in shoe boxes. World War II brought the development of the Naval Ammunition Depot, west of town, displacing nearly 50,000 acres of farm land, but bringing jobs to the community until it was phased out at the war’s end. The facility now serves as the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, and a University of Nebraska agricultural research station was built adjacent to it. Clay Center is southwest of Sutton, west of Geneva, and east of Hastings.



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